Wearing a mask is hard on your skin
Gentle skin care will prevent your mask from causing skin problems.

Woman splashing water on face
Masks play an important role in reducing the spread of the coronavirus. Masks are harsh on your skin, causing problems ranging from acne and peeling to rashes and itching. Board-certified dermatologists offer these nine tips to help prevent skin problems under the mask.

Cleanse and moisturize your face every day. Gentle skin care can prevent skin problems. When washing your face, use a gentle fragrance-free cleanser and follow the steps in Face Washing 101.

Dry skin is a common skin problem associated with face masks. Applying a moisturizer adds a protective layer to reduce dryness.

I like to apply moisturizer immediately after washing my face. To get the most out of your moisturizer, FAAD board-certified dermatologist Carrie L. Kovarik, MD, recommends using a moisturizer with the following ingredients:

Hyaluronic acid
Dimethicone (which helps reduce skin irritation)
You can avoid using moisturizers by using a moisturizer that is suitable for your skin type. Follow these guidelines when choosing a humidifier.

Oily skin (or when the weather is hot and humid): Gel moisturizer
Normal and combination skin: Lotion
Dry and very dry skin: Cream
If you have acne or breakouts, you can use a gel moisturizer.

Apply moisturizer before and after using the mask
Moisturizers can help prevent problems, especially if you have dry, sensitive skin.

Board Certified Dermatologist Carrie L. Kovarik’s advice is provided by FAAD, MD

A woman applying moisturizer to her face
Protect your lips by applying petroleum jelly. Dry skin and chapped lips are common skin problems associated with face masks. You can prevent chapped lips by applying petroleum jelly on your lips.

After washing your face
Before applying the mask
Before sleeping
Be careful to only apply the jelly to your lips to prevent inflammation.
Leave your makeup on when wearing a mask. Under the mask, makeup is more likely to clog pores and cause blemishes. If makeup is required, only use products labeled “non-comedogenic” or “non-pore-clogging.”

Avoid using new skin care products that may irritate your skin. Wearing a mask, even for a short period of time, can make your skin more sensitive. Avoid harsh products like chemical peels, peels, and retinoids for the first time to minimize skin problems, says board-certified dermatologist Daniela Kroshinsky, MD, MPH, FAAD.

Retinoids can irritate your skin
“If you’ve been using retinoids (or retinol), apply them before bed and don’t increase your dosage.”

Board Certified Dermatologist Daniela Kroshinsky, MD, MPH, FAAD

A bottle of retinoid cream
If your face is irritated, use less of certain skin care products. When you apply the mask to your face, your skin care products may irritate your skin. If this happens, Dr. Kroshinsky recommends avoiding products that irritate your skin, such as:

Remaining salicylic acid
Apply the retinoid to your face
After shaving
Use masks to slow the spread of COVID-19
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to see who should wear face masks: Using masks to slow the spread of COVID-19

Wear the right mask. Look for masks that offer:

Comfortable, but comfortable fit
At least two layers of fabric
A soft, natural, breathable fabric like cotton is the inner layer that sticks to your skin
Wearing a mask is uncomfortable, but being comfortable can help protect you and others from the coronavirus. You want a comfortable fit under the nose, sides, and chin.

A flat, comfortable fit also minimizes skin problems. If the mask is too tight or slides over the face, it can irritate the skin. You’re also more likely to get a bad mask fit. Touching the mask can transfer germs to the mask and face.

Take a 15-minute mask break every 4 hours. Health workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic have found it can help save their skin. Of course, only remove the mask when it is safe to do so, after washing your hands.

Safe places to remove masks include:

When outside and at least six feet away from people
In your car when you’re alone
At home

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